Japanese director Koji Wakamatsu is dead at 76 after being struck by a taxi, it was reported today. Wakamatsu was hit while crossing a major road in Tokyo, suffering injuries to his head and lower back. He passed away today, days following his admission to a hospital. Wakamatsu was in Tokyo after winning the Asian filmmaker of the year award at the Busan International Film Festival.
Having directed 105 films, the prolific director’s best known works include “Secrets Behind the Wall,” “Go, Go Second Time Virgin,” the politically charged “Ecstasy of the Angels,” and his recent 100th feature “United Red Army.” A pioneer of the Japanese “pink film,” the country’s sixties-era softcore porn genre, Wakamatsu famously took the genre in a provocative direction with 1966’s scandalous “The Embryo Hunts in Secret,” an unsettling revenge tale about a woman kidnapped and tortured by a demented captor until she eventually breaks free.
Wakamatsu’s first independent production, it provided the first hint of an illustrious career devoid of commercial constraints, and he continued on that path for the rest of his life. In 2007, he self-distributed “United Red Army” in Tokyo, at a point in time when he was already a legend of Japanese cinema. “What I’m after is telling the truth,” he said in an interview at the time. “Movies are entertainment, but that doesn’t stop us from telling the truth through them.”
Wakamatsu made a return to Cannes this year after 41 years with the Un Certain Regard title “11.25: The Day He Chose His Own Fate.” His most recent film was the Venice Horizons entry “The Millennial Rapture.”